Broadly speaking, websites take one of two forms: They’re either hobby sites, which are labors of love that allow their owners to tell their stories, their way, and share details about things they’re passionate about. Or they’re sites that are designed to make money, in which case, you want to adhere very closely to current SEO best practices to maximize your returns.
That’s not to say you can’t put some artistic flair into a site designed to make money, and it’s not to say that you can’t be passionate about the subject you mean to make money with (in fact, you definitely should be!). It is merely to point out that a hobby site is a very different animal than one optimized to turn a profit.
The very first question you should ask yourself then, is what exactly, are you building your current website for? In this article, we’ll take a look at the things you should definitely be doing if you decide you’re building a money-making site.
#1 – Don’t Reinvent The Wheel
Best Practices are called that for a reason. They’re tried and true. They work. Even if you are a master of HTML and are fully capable of designing your own, totally custom website, we’d advise against it. Use a Content Management System. There are tons of them out there but the reigning King is still probably WordPress.
Literally anyone can use WordPress to make a great looking site. Even better, there are a number of free SEO-friendly templates available to get you started. If you find a paid one that you like better, by all means, jump on it, but don’t spend a ton of time developing a highly custom website if the goal is to make money.
In addition to taking longer, CMS’ like WordPress give you the option of extending the functionality of your site quickly and easily via plugins. Take advantage of that. If you custom build a site, it could take you a month or more. Using WordPress, you can have the basics up and running in about fifteen minutes. It’s just no contest.
#2 – Pay Attention to On-Page and Off-Page SEO
Again, this is something you don’t have to worry about at all if you’re building a hobby site. Write what you want and if it gets traffic, great!
If you’re planning on making money though, you need to drive traffic, and the best way to do that is to use Google’s Adwords Keyword tool to find key words and phrases that are related to the topic of your site, zero in on the low-competition, decent traffic keywords and craft content around those concepts.
Also, download an SEO helper plugin like Yoast (WordPress) and use it to make sure you’re hitting all the high points that makes the search bots and algorithm happy. This is all very mechanical stuff, and the trick is to incorporate it all while maintaining a natural writing tone that will draw readers in. It’s a bit of a balancing act, but it’s a skill well worth learning.
#3 – Start Planning for Monetization Day One
Even if you don’t monetize your site right away, you still need to be thinking about how you plan on monetizing the site when you’re ready to take that step, and designing around that.
Will you stick with Adsense? Solicit third-party ads on your own? Find a suitable, niche-related product on Clickbank? Develop your own eBook? Build a mailing list and market to the people on it?
All of those are very different strategies, and each requires a different approach. You need to have at least some idea what you want to do to make money right from the start so you can progressively build toward that goal.
There are tons of other things you can do of course, but if you follow those three simple tips from day one, you’ll be miles ahead of the game!